What is your definition of evil?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by akoreamerican, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    I apologize if I was wrong in thinking you started it. You do seem reluctant to let go of it.
    No. They vary by the culture, the beliefs and laws of each society. The leader's faithfulness to the code is expected to be unvarying; what makes any individual a moral or immoral leader is the degree of his adherence to the code he swore to uphold when he took office (assumed the throne, whatever the custom.)
    If his faithful execution of those duties varies, he's not a reliable leader.

    I did no such slapping. In response to "Who are his people?" ; I guessed they are the people he leads - it is to them the leader owes loyalty.
    Evil doesn't come into that; he can be a bad or good man, a bad or good leader to any people in the world.
    Those same people he leads, and to whom he has a duty and the ones who judge whether he is a good or bad leader.

    Nor did I attempt to find out what their definitions were. I merely stated that they were guided by the principles of their time culture, not by what we might think of them posthumously.
    You and I were asked that by the title of the thread. It is to that theme I have eandeavoured throughout to remain faithful.
    That's how you know it's an effect: people are exhibiting it; in the same way that exhibiting a rash on the body is the effect of exposure to poison oak; it is caused by the toxin in the plant. Thus, the exhibition or expression of character flaw is the effect of having evil in human nature. Everyone has it, and everyone exhibits or expresses it in different ways, by different means, to different degrees, in different circumstances and for different purposes.
    I didn't say indulging oneself. I said indulging - that is, allowing free rein to, allowing their actions to be controlled by, instead of curbing and controlling - an internal drive or urge, including the evil portion of one's nature. There are many other kinds of indulgence and self-indulgence, but that is the one I specified.
    I have also, several times, cited circumstances and diminished capacity as mitigating factors when we assign degree of guilt.
    I very much doubt the legal term "depraved indifference" refers to functionaries working hard and conscientiously at their assigned duties. While this definition
    may well be true of many leaders' actions, it is not a charge generally brought against dutiful ones.
    That's the usual plea at war crime tribunals.
    The only way to judge degree of guilt is case by case, in possession of all the evidence - and even then, we often get it wrong.

    But I've said this before.
    I don't like going in circles.
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  3. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    They also vary by perception and understanding within any given society, such as the US.
    It is a charge often brought agains those "dutiful" in their own and their minions's - and other parts of their society's - estimation.
    So not an internal urge that one indulges.
    Indulging an internal drive or urge is what I meant by indulging oneself - and what I referred to as inadequate for defining evil.
    And it's often true. The usual verdict is that it's no excuse.
    We are still in the "what is evil" stage - we can hash out criteria for degree of guilt in doing evil later. Meanwhile, the matter of including evils done without a specific intention is my focus. The industrial horrors of the Holocaust or Stalin's mass starvations do not get off the hook because their mandators, designers, and implementors were not indulging internal urges to do those evils.
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  5. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    You may be. I passed it three pages ago.
    Of-bloody-course they were!
    There is nothing unintentional about building gas ovens or burning crops. Even far more indirect harm, like poisoning the drinking water of a village that happens to be downhill of one's gold-mine is intentional and deliberate. The exact consequences may not be calculated in each instance - though corporations generally have $ figures prepared in case the worst-case result comes to litigation.
    The internal urge is always present; we either fight it or give in to it.
    The reasons we give in to them vary. The methods of expression vary. The practical applications vary. The circumstances vary. The degrees of control vary.
    The evil motive is always exactly the same: to get what we want at whatever cost to others.
    That's what I've been trying to get across. If I didn't, I can't.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  7. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    what if they dont care if it causes you pain ?
    is that evil ?

    you could argue that Hitler was not Evil because he had no intention of creating pain in the people he was comitting Genocide against.

    though i can tell from how and what you post that you are hedging your bets either way to postulate a personal beleif as a form of monologue seeking acquiescence.
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You didn't. You hit a snag on the word "intention".
    But that's not what you were talking about. You have explicitly excluded that, e.g.: "Obviously: hence "the intent to do harm" - not to get something you need, - - " You were talking about intending to do harm and inflict pain and cause suffering - that as the intention. (In point of fact the Holocaust gas ovens were deliberately designed to minimize pain and suffering, which were sources of trouble and expense.).
    No, it isn't. It may even be completely unrecognized, done without the slightest awareness of it even happening, by the depraved and indifferent.
    I do not believe, say, that anyone involved - from the investors down to the janitor help - in a mining corporation's poisoning rivers for gold, is driven by their internal urge to poison rivers.
    And I am not willing to remove the label "evil" from such depraved indifference, willingness to impose collateral damage of any proportion, etc.
  9. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Rainbow, why do you capitalize some nouns, but not the first character of your sentences?

    Evil exists. In priests, elected officials, cops, and maybe your next-door neighbor. Just watch out for it and you'll probably be OK. Unless "ignored member" chooses to label you as evil, of course. As he will. Since I don't read that childish spew any longer, I can't really say...

    It is always right to deny evil, or support it, because Hillary. Because Trump. Because Mandela or Amin. Because Jesus or the pedophiliac murdering son-of-a-bitch Mohammad.

    All of whom just might be evil, thank goodness.

    Pun intended. If you can't identify it, you're helpless.
  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    It wasn't my word, but I agreed with it, by and large. No snag.

    Need? No. Want. Nobody needs genocide. Somebody wants a people gone for some reason.
    I think death qualifies as "harm" and there is plenty of hurt (many kinds of hurt are not physical) involved in the process, and none of it is accidental or unintended. Plus, the camps - built, staffed and operated intentionally - did quite a lot more besides march people into "minimal-pain" death chambers.
    I never said pain was the ultimate aim. I said the pain was caused intentionally. There may be different ultimate ends to which harm is ameans - profit is a biggie; power is at least a close second; spite and sick pleasure are far behind - statistically.
    Bull. Shit. They know; they just don't care.
    The janitor probably has only the vaguest notion. The junior clerks have a suspicion. The mid-level executives have a pretty good idea. The engineers and workers in the field know; they see the guards beat off the grieving mothers daily; the investors la-la-la-la don't want to know, so long as the cheques keep coming; the board of directors know all about it and have an expensive law-firm on retainer, for when the ungaua gets too near the fan. There is no way for mining corporation not to know that they use arsenic in processing, or that it's going into the river or that it's poison.
    The internal urge to take what they want, regardless of cost to others. The river-poisoning is just one of the means to the end of getting rich, richer, richest. Addicting schoolchildren to cocaine is not the urge: the urge is to get rich; selling cocaine is the means; insuring a durable market for the product is sound business policy.
    The Alberta government, under instructions from the tar-sands oil producers, has threatened to withhold its support of the Canadian federal government's (feeble) climate strategy until they get the pipeline that will sabotage climate strategy. No way is that depraved indifference unsconscious or unintentional.
    Nor should you. It's there. The charge is not usually brought against top brass unless they've lost a war - but it should be.Against mid-level administrators, the evidence probably won't hold up. But none of these people are just doing their assigned duties conscientiously and in good faith. Nowhere in the job description of civil servant does it say: "Requisition building material and construction equipment for death camps." When an official discovers that's what he's expected to do, he has to make a choice. that's when we find out which of his wolves had the high-protein diet.

    Do you really not see the distinction between motive and means?
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I was quoting you.
    They have no particular urge to kill. All else being equal, they'd rather not bother.
    Sometimes they know, sometimes they don't care even enough to know.
    Either way, they have no urges to indulge or not indulge. Their intentions are focused elsewhere.
    So? They don't care one way or the other, as you pointed out. If they could save a nickel by not poisoning the river, they would be happy to do so - poisoning the river is not a goal, intention, urge, or motive of theirs.
    There's no wolf involved. Neither choice is an urge or intention of the chooser.
    The choice is easy, for the indifferent. It is heavily penalized, for the caring. That is where cowardice comes in. But intention? Not on the table.
    But requisitions for gas ovens and train cars would be routine.
    I've been insisting on it for pages now.
    Or get the job done, or save a few nickels on methods, or pay the rent, or whatever - all of these explicitly excluded from the category "evil" by your insistence on intention, above.
    "Charges" are hardly the issue, eh? We aren't defining "evil" as what would hold up in court as crime, one hopes.
    Of course many of these people are doing their assigned evil duties conscientiously and in good faith, just as they intended when they got up in the morning.
    That's how they earned the label "evil". Those are the intentions that pave the road to hell.
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    In what context? I don't see that in the quote to which this was a response.
    They'd prefer if the people they want gone could be magicked away, you mean?
    I'm not at all convinced of that. Given the amount of torture in the camps, beatings, humiliations and intimidations beforehand, I strongly suspect that end could have been served far more efficiently without those pleasures. Or do you also believe that the bully-boys of the Francos, Reza Shahs and Pol Pots of the world don't enjoy their work? An undertaking the size of a genocide fulfills the evil ends of several different kinds of mind.
    To some participants the "banality of evil" https://aeon.co/ideas/what-did-hannah-arendt-really-mean-by-the-banality-of-evil
    covers the intentionality: it's just routine. This would also be true of slave-drivers and chicken-wranglers. It doesn't matter whether they take pleasure in it or not: it matters that they know the harm and do it anyway.
    That was covered in levels of culpability.
    The urge they are indulging is the same one: get what they want at any cost to others. The focus is on profit.
    That what I said: pollution is the means. The desire for profit is the motive. If profit entails extirpating entire species or paupering entire countries, it's all the same to them. They're motivated by greed.
    There always is. I was referring to a well-known story.
    That's all part of the same thing: to get what they want. I have not excluded any intentional act that causes harm to others in order to serve one's own ends. Not even if one's contribution to the harm is indirect.
    The shareholder who chooses not to know the corporation's methods; the board member who signs off on the unethical procedure; the executive who conceals an environmental assessment, the site foreman who supervises the extraction, the workers who place the effluent pipes all carry out an intentional act that will do harm to others in the service of what they themselves want.
    You cited a legal term, several times. I attempted to put in the legal context to which it belongs.
    No; a lot of evil is or has been or will be legal somewhere sometime. Lawmakers are not exempt.
    Again, it's a matter of context and connotation. When duties that are assigned - by whomever! - and the agent recognizes the harm he is required to do, he becomes complicit the moment he receives the order. At that point, he has an opportunity to weigh the potential harm against the potential good in that course of action and to refuse. When he carries out the order, he becomes an accessory. Degree of guilt is then determined by the agent's capacity to understand and choose his actions. The person giving the order - such as a general or president - is ultimately responsible, both for the harm done and for the guilt he thrust upon his underlings.
    Except for the hell part; I don't believe in that.
  13. river


    In the Series Babylon 5 .

    both sides had become a example of both good and evil .
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  14. river


    evil is an ATTITUDE , that in the end eliminates Humanities existence .

    Which of course should never be allowed .
  15. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Evil is not an attitude. Television is not a library.

    Get something right for once.

    Oh, shit. Never mind.
  16. river

    Evil is an attitude , against Humanity .
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I used it for its ordinary language meaning. The reference to legality was just support for the common recognition of that category of evil.
    I know the story. There is no wolf involved in this aspect of evil. The people doing it are not indulging urges to do evil.
    1) Yes. Or the goal accomplished without removing them.
    2) Those are different people and actions than being discussed. Of course opportunity attracts sadists and perverts and such - but that's just more unavoidable and regrettable expense and trouble, from the indifferent point of view. Providing arenas for the psychiatrically disturbed, creating such disturbance in the vulnerable and abused themselves, is part of the evil done by depraved indifference, part of the collateral damage. It is not part of the desired or intended.
    Exactly. Which is excluded by a definition of evil that demands the intention be to harm, cause suffering, etc.
    You have. You have excluded, for one thing, all accident. You have also excluded side effects, collateral damage, and the like.
    And cowardice comes into the picture - including the cowardice involved in carefully refusing to become aware of, or recognize, the effects of one's actions - or the chance of accidents, etc, being created.
    The point is: often nobody at all consciously intends the harm, even in the doing of utter evil. But that lack of care is an aspect of the evil - not an exoneration, partial or otherwise.
  18. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    All right.
  19. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    , , .

    Really. Like , I mean , you know , the humanity , that can't , you know , like , communicate

  20. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

    If they don't care, it's still wrong but I would not say evil, if the person does not correct his or her behavior after the accident, I would say that is evil, because it shows that intent is now a factor in his or her actions.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018
  21. river

    psychopaths , sociopaths
  22. akoreamerican Registered Senior Member

    If you are talking about people who don't acknowledge their mistakes yes they are doing evil
  23. river

    just mistakes

    so psychopaths just make mistakes ?

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